Clinical trials are research studies conducted with people who volunteer to take part. Each study answers specific questions and tries to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose or treat disease. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people and ways to improve health.
What is involved in a clinical trial?
The Australian Clinical Trials website, supported by the Australian Government, provides detailed information about all aspects of clinical trials including procedures and governance. The phases of a clinical trial can be summarised as:
Phase I Clinical Trials: Tests first-time biomedical interventions to small groups of people to evaluate safety.
Phase 2 Clinical Trials: Studies biomedical interventions in several hundred people to determine how effective it is and to further evaluate its safety.
Phase 3 Clinical Trials: Studies the efficacy of a biomedical intervention in large groups of people. These studies compare the intervention to standard care or other interventions and are used to monitor adverse effects.
Phase 4 Clinical Trials: These studies are done after an intervention has been approved and marketed to the general population. They monitor the effectiveness and collect information about any adverse effects associated with widespread use over time.
See which clinical trials are currently taking place in Australia.
What issues should I consider when thinking about being involved in a clinical trial?
Taking part in a clinical trial has potential benefits and potential risks. Most people think of the benefits, and for those with complex conditions, rare and hard to treat disorders, clinical trials can provide a breath of fresh air.
However, before jumping in, it's important to understand that you may not be suitable for a proposed trial, the intervention may be ineffective and possibly exacerbate the condition and have unwanted or serious side-effects.